I happened to turn on the TV yesterday just in time to see that Sarah Huckabee Sanders had turned her regular daily White House briefing into a dog and pony show extolling the seriousness of the Trump administration’s efforts to protect our elections against Russian interference. It was quite a ridiculous little display.
They trotted out the head of all the major intelligence agencies other than Gina Haspel of the CIA. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was there, as were FBI Director Christopher Wray, NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakusone, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and National Security Adviser John Bolton, being his usual arrogant, smirky self (like Trump, Bolton clearly sees any questioning or criticism of him as virtually a treasonous act). And they all testified, in vague and bland language, about how the entire federal government was taking this threat very, very seriously.John Heileman called this gaggle “a five-person janitorial crew carrying the mops and brooms trying to clean up the lingering toxic spill that was Donald Trump’s disastrous news conference had in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin,” and he was dead on. That’s why they were there, to try to counteract the (entirely accurate) perception that Trump doesn’t actually believe there ever was any interference (or is lying to cover up the fact that he knows there was) because that would undermine the legitimacy of his election. It would mean he didn’t actually win, and winning is the only thing he cares about.
When asked about that very thing by a reporter, how they square their claims in that press conference that all of our intelligence agencies know that Russia interfered and continues to do so with Trump repeatedly calling that a hoax and saying he believes Putin’s denials, Coats offered a predictably mealy-mouthed answer about how the president has been “very clear” that he takes the threat seriously. Who could possibly believe that? Oh yeah, a Trump supporter.